Friday, January 25, 2008

Pick On Someone Your Own Size

A few years ago, I was a restaurant Marketing Manager, where I shared workspace with the hotel employees who housed the restaurant. The Events Manager (a tall, young, African-American gentleman) welcomed me every morning, by slapping the back of my neck when I least expected it. And every morning, I practically jumped out of my skin. While I sat behind him in our weekly staff meetings, I dreamed of getting back at him. Just once. His big, bald head was practically asking for it. But someone had to be mature and dignified. (Ok, so I was too short to reach the back of his neck, unless he was sitting with his back to me which he rarely did). I know he did it affectionately (or so he said) and that he actually liked me(or at least didn't hate me). None of this mattered as I sat at my desk, heart racing, trying to calmly plan no-budget marketing campaigns.

One night, The German planned a dinner get-together at his favorite sushi joint, a tiny hole in the wall with an L-style sushi bar and pictures of all of its patrons on the wall. M and I were the last to get there, everyone else was sitting along the long side of the L. We walked in, waved hello to everyone and that's when I saw Ryan--sitting with his back to the door; big, bald head shining; and within my reach. He was still wearing the blue shirt he had worn to work that day. All of the sudden the wish to get back to him was so great, my fingers were tingling. I could just see him jumping out of his chair the way I had every morning for the last three months. I didn't care that M's co-workers would see me in a moment of gleeful indignity. I was not afraid.

As M walked toward his friends, I raised my hand, focused on the big bald head and SLAP!

It was beautiful. There was an echo. Everyone saw it. The big, black man jumped out of his seat and turned so fast his chair hit the floor. My victorious laugh turned into a blood curdling scream. The man was not Ryan.

Did I mention I couldn't stop screaming?

He was incredibly nice. Not many men would start laughing that hard after being slapped by a complete stranger. I couldn't stop apologizing; M couldn't drag me away. My audience was laughing hysterically at the end of the bar. I had no dignity left.

I didn't taste anything that night. I wanted to die when the nice gentleman walked over to wish us a good night. I almost cried when he laughingly told me to pick on someone my own size next time.

I never recovered from my performance that night. It's hard to maintain any sense of dignity when people refuse to let a small matter of mistaken identity die.

Updates--For Those Kind Enough to Wonder

I realize that lately I have been slightly 'frustrated', and not just about things that impact me directly. But I'm a little cheerier today, if exhausted. Why?
  • I have reclaimed my home from almost six weeks of playing hostess to assorted International Travelers. I am once again able to enjoy my cup of coffee in nothing more than a bath towel if I so choose (I haven't really because it's a little chilly in the morning). Granted, I will be entertaining again this weekend, but they will be leaving at the end of the night (or early morning hours). In light of all of the cooking, entertaining and schedule juggling, I'm seriously considering opening a B&B.
  • I got a promotion. It only took me 2.5 years of negotiating, achieving milestones and begging to make this happen. I am pleased that they finally caved. Please feel free to contact me if you need a personal chef or a project manager. (I also tutor up to college level classes in most subjects, and come with recommendations).
  • I have lovely friends, who make me happy every time I think of them or talk to them. I am grateful for their good company, their wisdom and the fact that they are in good health and humor.
  • There are some people who are very, very easily impressed. I like meeting them, as they are great for my ego.
  • I saw Persepolis. I LOVED it. Not just because it seemed like the story of my life, but because a whole bunch of Iranian friends (male and female) watched it and found more to bond over. We ex-pats, relatives of executed and exiled elders who have lived as fish out of water--we have found a small, shining moment on screen.
  • I am having fewer death related dreams. I am waking up for no reason at least four or five times a night, but in a way, that is actually preferable to dreaming of my demise in assorted ways.
Unfortunately, the house looks like it it has survived a frat party. And I have homework, bills and editing to do this weekend. But right now, I'm enjoying my moment.

Monday, January 14, 2008

When Planned Parenthood Saves the Day

I knew she was pregnant before she told me, and frankly, I was a little suspicious before she knew it--but I didn't say anything because I thought it would be rude. When she giddily told me I was going to be a khaleh (auntie), I started quietly compiling a list of names waiting to casually make a few suggestions. I was excited that one from our circle of friends would be adding a new little member to the group.

So you can imagine how sad I was for my friend last night when she emailed me to say that her husband is still radioactive (he had to have his thyroid removed) and that she had had a miscarriage. Her email was fairly light in tone, but I called her immediately. What she told me made me sad, angry and grateful for Planned Parenthood.

She thought something was wrong and went to her doctor, telling him she didn't feel pregnant any more. He first dismissed her concerns and finally checked the fetus' heartbeat at my friend's insistence. She miscarried close to her 14th week of pregnancy. He then informed her that because it was past her first trimester, her body would not spontaneously reject the dead fetus and it would have to be removed. He would not do the procedure because it was too similar to performing an abortion. And he was not going to refer her to anyone to conduct the procedure either.

This is where I lost track of what she was saying for a little while because I was stuck on the fact that a trained physician, a SCIENTIST, was not willing to remove dead tissue that would cause sepsis from my friend's uterus because the procedure was similar to an abortion. This is what he says to a woman who has just miscarried. A woman who could suffer infection, sepsis, hemorrhaging and possibly infertility because his religious beliefs did not allow him to differentiate between dead tissue and a live fetus. I'm not even going to touch the pro-choice vs. pro-life issue. My brain still hurts from the madness of what she was told.

Back to my friend: She tried to find another physician to conduct the procedure soon (before sepsis set in) and couldn't find anyone in her immediate network who could see her before March. It's January. Crazy, right? So out of desperation and in an understandable state of panic she calls Planned Parenthood, semi-hysterical and trying to explain what has happened. They were kind and worked quickly to get her in as soon as possible. She went with her dad to the PP clinic (her husband is going through radiation therapy and can't touch her or be within 7 feet of her), had the procedure and came home. She was so impressed and grateful, that she told her husband that every year on the day of her miscarriage she will donate money to Planned Parenthood.

In light of this situation, I would like to ask you to have an honest discussion with your physician and make sure you (or the women in your life) will be cared for if they need it. If your current physician is unwilling to care for you, please find one who will place your health before their personal beliefs. And please support your local Planned Parenthood. If not for them, there would be women who need medical help who wouldn't get it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

If Dreams Were to Come True

As I have mentioned, I'm occasionally psychic. Or just lucky. I don't know, but either way there have been a number of occasions when my nightly visions have come true with shocking accuracy. Sometimes this entertains me, and other times, it scares the living daylights out of me. Which is why, generally speaking, I'm not a very restful sleeper. I'm a heavy sleeper, and am according to my mom just the kind of lazy person who needs at least six hours of shut-eye, but many times I wake up shaken and exhausted because of my dreams.

Yesterday was one such morning. Except I wasn't shaken, so much as I was crying.

A high school class/grade mate of mine, always a sweet and smart young woman, was diagnosed with colon cancer. She died less than a month later, at age 34. Although we were in different classes (she was in the math track, I was in science), we knew of each. I was aware of her through the usual Iranian network of friends. And while I hadn't spoken to her since high school, I was so saddened by her passing.

Which may explain my dream.

In my dream, I went to my doctor, apologizing for coming to him with the same symptoms I always have and swearing they were real and I wasn't being a hypochondriac. He gave me the same smile he gave me every time I visit with my laundry list of GI-related issues. But his smile faded away as he looked at gibberish looking test results and apologized for having missed what was clearly cancer. In my dream I didn't panic then, or even when he told me I probably had less than a month to live. I panicked when I came home, trying to call people and say my good-byes and NO ONE would answer their damned phones. No one. In my dream, I sat crying hysterically, clutching the phone in my hand thinking I don't want to say good-bye to the people I love and care about in a voicemail message. Because that's rude, and frankly it would deprive them of the opportunity to say they love me and will miss me (or say good riddance and how I never lived up to their expectations).

Anyway, I woke up, clutching my cell phone and crying. M tried to pacify me and eventually trying to use logic (silly man, dreams don't follow logic). Nothing worked. Almost all day yesterday, I was moving under the sad haze of dying young and alone, deprived of the opportunity to tell people how much I cared for them and appreciated everything they have brought to my life.

I hope my classmate had that opportunity, I'm pretty sure she did. I hope she passed in peace, if too soon, knowing how much she was loved and respected. And selfishly, I hope my dream doesn't come true.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Return of the Bookworm

There are two kinds of people: leaders and the followers. I'm a little bit of a hybrid --I'm a loud follower when I realize someone is already leading. And trust me, there are plenty of smart people leading right now. Ex-smokers, re-runners and feminizers.

So I thought I would commit to the blogosphere some of the plans and thoughts I have in mind for 2008. Especially since I have encouraged a certain young lady to do the same a while ago:
  • Read more books: I was once a devout (book) reader. Then I started working and vegetating in front of the television after work. I miss reading books and hanging out at libraries. I almost called in sick during my lunch hour on Monday when I went to the library--it was kind of hard tearing myself away. Which brings me to:
  • Cancel Cable: Between my slightly addictive personality and boredom/exhaustion, I get hooked on too many shows, too easily. Even when I hate shows, I'll watch them and analyze exactly why I hate them. My best example? Sex in the City, a program I loathe, yet watch repeatedly to see what it is that I'm missing. Plus, TimeWarner is ripping me off.
  • Get my PM certificate. I'm one and a half classes away and registered. What could go wrong?
  • Attend more concerts, shows and cultural events. I'm off to a good start with tickets to see the Foo Fighters (yay!).
  • Knit/Crochet more: There are babies coming who need blankets, cousins who need fuzzy flip-flops and friends who need scarves.
  • Learn to Dance: By popular demand, and because I would like to look better than a cross between Elaine and an epileptic Medusa.
There are a couple of secret goals and resolutions, but I'm not ready to announce them yet. Should I fail miserably, I would prefer to fail miserably without too many people knowing.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

BBC+Mr. Rochester=Brilliant

I was channel surfing Sunday night to find something I could fold my laundry to. I just happened to stumble upon PBS, and the moment I saw the little girl walking towards the head of the classroom, I knew it was Jane Eyre. I parked my bum on the couch, forgot laundry and enjoyed the best adaptation I have seen of the book. Now, a few things:

I love Jane Eyre. LOVE. I loved Jane, I loved the book, but mostly I loved Mr. Rochester. He was the first in a long list of misunderstood men that I fell in love with (closely followed by Mr. Darcy, Heathcliff and Sydney Carton) and was sure could be saved. Which is why I have hated every single adaptation of Jane Eyre I have ever seen. I mean, what kind of a sick person would think of casting William Hurt as Mr. Rochester? Or Samantha Morton--whom I generally like--as Jane? None of the movies ever lived up to my expectations.

Except this BBC version. Even though Toby Stephens doesn't really look like Mr. Rochester and Ruth Wilson is far from 'plain', I liked it. A LOT (So much so that I ran to the library on Monday, got a copy of the book and have read it twice already). Somehow this adaptation works for me, even though the ending wasn't quite as I would have hoped. I think I just chalk it up to the BBC pretty much being able to adapt any book to a decent movie, furthering my love of the BBC.

And while the BBC has for some reason disabled the embedding feature, you can see one of my favorite parts of the movie here. Better yet, just rent the movie and watch the whole thing. You'll thank me.

Which brings me to a questions for you: Towards the end of the book, Mr. Rochester announces he wants to get married. Jane advises him to marry "her who loves you best." Mr. Rochester wants to choose, "her that he loves best". Ladies and gentleman, my question is, if you were to choose a spouse/life partner would you choose the person who loves you most, or the person you love most? Why?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Maz Jobrani in Action (My Role Model)

For the record, this is the video I was referring to in my earlier post.

Also for the record, I am more feminine looking than Maz, lack his sense of rhythm but look much cuter attempting to belly dance.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Oh Brother

It was a matter of time before it happened and deep down, I know it probably wasn't personal. That didn't make me embrace the usurper of my throne any more. His arrival turned my world upside-down and it hasn't stopped turning since.

Until 1977, I was a carefree little princess at the center of my family's universe. Uncles bribed my mom to play with me, aunts proudly showed me off to their friends and grandparents would monopolize my time as their God given right. I was the benevolent and adored little dictator of our universe.

Life was good.

But then my parents placed us all in exile--in a cold land far, far from my happy kingdom. On that cold, March morning in the strange state of Iowa he came to our world and we have never been the same.

Had he been healthy, perfect and happy, he would have been tough competition. But he was none of those things. He came to this world, barely breathing and hanging on to life to pacify my mother. I was lost and ignored in the shuffle, left to adjust to a cold, distracted world. I was powerless in the face of his illness. I could neither lift the darkness that had entered our world, nor could I charm my way back into anyone's attention span. After all, it is hard to compete for attention against a child who is only sent home to die.

And so, I did the only thing a disgruntled princess in my position would do: I made myself invisible and harbored a distrust of people that hasn't quite gone away.

The fact of the matter is, he was mostly innocent--and I soon forgave him his near death tendencies. I even appreciated his humor and forgiveness in those moments I accidentally pushed him closer to his demise. I could not forgive him for his gunpowder personality, his disruptive habits and his sheer joy in provoking me. Half the times, he didn't even put any thought into provoking me, and those were the worst offenses.

Thirty years later, he is the same. He beat Death in a staring match and gained a cult following in the process. His nurses still look me up and call me, telling me of his antics in the hospital. His teachers groan at his irrepressible personality, even when he set his school on fire. Multiple times. And he still provokes me, without an effort. I want to share his joys and lift his sorrows, but I cannot. At best I can caution him and not rain on his parade. I fear that despite our differences (and similarities) I still have not forgiven the boy who cast me out of my kingdom.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Can You Be Like Him?

While my father was here, were talked about all kinds of things. Career (or lack there of), my potential (untapped), Iranians (with careers and tapped potential)--more or less the same thing my parents and I always talk about. This is a paraphrasing of one recent conversation:

Dad: "You know that Iranian comedian? The funny one?"
Me: "Omid Djalili? Maz Jobrani?"
Dad: "No, the bald one. The funny one that has a TV show."
Me: "They're both bald, Baba. And they both have had TV shows."

I log onto my Myspace page and bring up Maz Jobrani's page, complete with a picture of his rather large, bald head.

Dad: "Yeah, that's him. Can you be like him?"
Me: "You want me to be bald with a visible goatee?"
Dad: "I meant with a job that shows your talents."

I pulled up a YouTube clip of Jobrani doing a belly dance to "Happy Birthday", as he stripped down to his underwear.

Me: "Like this?"
Dad: "That's not funny (as he tried not to laugh). Never mind. Maybe you can do something else instead."